Is it confirmed that President Donald Trump's brother, Robert, died of "COVID-exacerbated complications," as claimed on Facebook and in a tweet, both by a former Republican U.S. Senate candidate? No, that is not true. The cause of death for Robert Trump, who died at 71 on August 15, 2020, has not been officially released by the president, the family or the hospital.
The claim can be found in a post (archived here) published on Facebook on August 16, 2020. The post is simply a picture of a tweet from the day before. It read:
My condolences to @POTUS @realDonaldTrump's brother who has passed away from COVID-exacerbated complications. #COVID19 #COVID #CoronavirusUpdates."
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Aug 21 16:06:49 2020 UTC)
Some reports have said that Robert Trump, whose services were being held in a private ceremony at the White House on August 21, 2020, died a few weeks after being injured in a fall. But no information or determination on the cause of his death have been officially released.
Reached by phone August 21, 2020, the Facebook poster, tax attorney and former Republican Senate candidate John Anthony Castro, told Lead Stories:
That was my understanding of the situation, but I've heard later that it wasn't confirmed and the hospital wasn't permitted to release information. So, I will leave it at that."
The White House refused to comment.
Castro, a former candidate for the Senate from Texas who lost the March 3, 2020, Republican primary, started Castro & Co., an international tax attorney firm, in 2007.
According to an August 15 New York Times story:
Robert Trump, who took blood thinners, had experienced brain bleeds, which began after a recent fall, according to a family friend. President Trump went to Manhattan on Friday to see his brother at the hospital."
This also could not be confirmed by Lead Stories.
The White House released news of Robert Trump's death, and issued a statement from President Trump that said:
"He was not just my brother, he was my best friend. He will be greatly missed, but we will meet again."
Castro's tweet tying the death to COVID-19 is below:
My condolences to @POTUS @realDonaldTrump's brother who has passed away from COVID-exacerbated complications. #COVID19 #COVID #CoronavirusUpdates-- 🇺🇸 John Anthony Castro (@realJohnACastro) August 16, 2020
Again, no official cause of death has been released by family, the White House, the hospital or any coroner, medical examiner or funeral home.
A tweet from Paula Reid of CBS News said "family and friends" were expected for the service for Robert Trump in East Room of the White House, but the White House did not confirm the number of attendees:
The First Family is expected to hold services for the President's late brother, Robert Trump, in the East Room of the White House this afternoon. WH wont confirm how many attending, but its expected to be family and friends. @CBSNews-- Paula Reid (@PaulaReidCBS) August 21, 2020